Universalism vs Contextual
• Universalism-Contextual debate
• Is there a best practice approach?
• Convergence as a 3rd alternative
patterns of ownership
devolvement to line
work systems etc.
National HRM Context
Contextual Model of HRM
HR Role Framework
Source: Conner J. Ulrich D. (1996). “Human Resource Roles:
Creating Value Not Rhetoric” Human Resource Planning
The Michigan Matching Model of HRM
Laws and societal
The Harvard Model of Human Resource Management
Role of HRM departments
• Differing roles in different countries.
• Some more administrative some more
• As some of the administrative work is
outsourced or computerised, there can be
more emphasis on strategic role.
Role of HRM department
• Is it represented on the board of directors
• Is it involved in strategic management
• Where was the HR manager recruited
Moving from a centralised to
decentralised HR model
• Trend towards management through cost-
centre profit-centre based approach
• Line managers are more in contact with
employees. They have the main responsibility
• Issue of responsiveness to customers.
• A move towards reducing overhead and
Pressures slowing the devolvement
to line managers
• Line managers not enthusiastic to take on HR
• Line managers may regard HR activities as a
• Not enough training and support to line
managers in HR duties
Integration and devolvement
• Degree of integration of HRM into business
• Degree of devolvement: the degree to which
HRM practive involves and gives responsibility
to line managers rather than personnel
Mechanics (low integration and
• Specialist, but limited skills and interests of
– Professional personnel manager with higher’
imperatives than the organization. Belief that
specialist knowledge is beyond the scope of
– Focus on the mechanical requirements of the
– Increasing isolation from strategic interests of the
wild west (low integration and high
Individual manager free to develop his/her own
lncreased power to hire and fire, reward and
Potential for incoherence, inconsistency and
strong employee reactions.
Guarded strategists (high
integration but low devolvement)
• Specialists powerful figures in the
• Close liaison with senior managers to develop
• Large and influential departments with
centralized control of policies.
• Better line managers frustrated with lack of
control, poor managers welcome lack of
Pivotal (high integration and high
Senior personnel managers act as catalysts,
facilitators and co-ordinators.
Small, but powerful departments.
Monitoring of and internal consulting on HRM
Responsibility and authority devolved to the
Problems with resourcing high-calibre business-
orientated HRM managers.